Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sweet & Sour September, Part 7: Yoshiko Wada Workshop - My Pieces

Left, old cashmere scarf sample, warp in two grays, 2/2 twill, machine-stitched in "katana"; right, two end calico pieces, dyed in synthetic indigo. The very white spots in the calico were stitched by hand in addition to the machine-stitching; I can't see these spots on the cashmere sample, but it's a nice idea. Dyed in the darker synthetic indigo once. Yoshiko and I discussed variations on the theme with in-between blues because wool absorbs the dye readily.

Fine tussah silk (?), machine woven scarf with peony motifs, from Japan. I hand-stitched the contours of seven of the flowers, then tied four in ”kumokukuri" and capped three as with the first step of "tsujigahana". Dyed in a weak natural indigo twice. The stitching did not follow the exact outline of the flowers on purpose, but it would have looked more interesting had the stitching veered further off course. The pulling of the stitches were inexact, resulting in one flower showing the "Tasmania effect", while another extending the white area outward in a cone shape.

I should have done one where only the outline was left white the the inside dyed as well.

Fine silk handwoven scarf from Laos; folded irregularly and clamped with CD-roms. The original color was chocolate/tea blue brown; to create lots of in-between colors, (here, greens); dyed in the weaker of the synthetic indigo. I clamped approximately one quarter of the CDs tightly with two clamps, but and left the other sides open. This turned out to be my favorite piece from the workshop.

Dichotomy? A lot of the workshop was about Japanese-style planning, precision, and knowledge, of which I am proud and strive at, but I loved the unknowable, incalculable, the unplanned results more.

I never got around to working with my favorite method, pole-wrapping, but I think I know how to do this. I have one more piece I started in the workshop, which I'll dye during my Indigo Duty next week.

* * * * *

It astonishes me that I felt so alienated I didn't ask Yoshiko if she had her first book to sell, but that I relied on Deb to ask her, and when someone else took the last copy, I felt a bit numb, and mumbled something about Ben having access to the one in the Polytech library. So, no autographed copy!

I know some of you know the terminology of shibori much better than I, so I've listed only what I remember. If you're really stuck, let me know and I'll dig up the information.

* * * * *

After putting up with these many posts, I think you deserve a bonus. Here are two tips I picked up from Yoshiko:

* To cap and resist an area, as in my white peonies above, use plastic shopping bags rather than kitchen wraps.
* Indigo is alkali; rinse wools and silks in diluted vinegar water to neutralize and soften the fabric.

* * * * *

I discovered Colleen occasionally reads this blog and she asked me to write something about the workshop. On Day One I replied that it will be an extremely personal view, not exactly relating to the contents of the workshop, and she said that was fine. I hazard to guess she, nor you, ever expected to read the internal journey of one confused Japanese/American/Kiwi weaver who seeks the life of a pretend-savant. If you were disappointed by the lack of techniques, recipes or process photos, I'm sorry. If you were appalled, I remind you there are plenty of sane weaving blogs to enjoy. If you enjoyed the roller-coaster ride, I can't even promises there will be more of that to come.

All I can promise is that this is the last of the workshop-related posts for the time being. Onward and upward!

EDIT:  I originally used the term pretend-idiot-savant, even though I knew it was an outdated term, because that is exactly how I felt in the workshop.  But I support most changes of terminology if they peel away prejudices and discrimination, so I've taken it off somewhat belatedly.  Folks with Savantism and their loved ones have a hard enough time, they don't need an idiot to use an old and mean word.


  1. I love your favorite scarf!

  2. My table-mate Trish said she sees brains - yesterday as I was shooting the photo, I saw a bunch of cute bugs. It's quite interesting trying to interpret these critters!

  3. Meg that scarf is gorgeous -- I really love it. You are such an artist, I wish I could learn from you.

  4. A good reminder to stay open to chance and the unpredictable, Sunny!

  5. Meg,
    I enjoyed hearing about this workshop- I spent a summer working at a "craft center" in the woods as a studio assistant, and I witnessed a lot of these same social politics between people- it was frustrating to see the imbalances: the people there to get the most out of the workshop at the cost of the other participants' access, all the way to the people trying to make the best of it. Many of the workshops were a bit disorganized as well- teaching is a skill that many talented artists and artisans have to study and learn. It was an amazing experience, and the good outweighed the bad for sure, but at times the atmosphere felt very juvenile which was a bit disheartening as we were all adults. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Gee, Julia, thanks for reading! I've been thinking about the compulsion/feeling-of-obligation to share, censoring, why I blog, etc. and the compulsion to delete everything of mine on the Internet, and so far have come to no conclusion, once again.

    I cannot separate my life or my person from my weaving, so I cannot maintain a "weaving only" blog. That much, I know. But there are times even I know as I type, that some of what I write - much of which I know I will post, i.e. publicize/publish(?) - is "not right", i.e. I hear my parents criticizing me for being paranoid or obsessed with myself.

    Part of me thinks I need to examine this more closely; part of me is so over my weaknesses and want to move on.

    Life is so strange, Julia.

  7. Hi Meg, Indeed, life is strange with its cycles and unknowns. Especially in this internet day and age. I also struggle with the putting myself out there in public via a blog or any other medium... the public vs. private, the purpose of being public with work and thoughts. It feels a bit like a tightrope- I have reasons for sharing and reasons for keeping some things private, but it feels like a dance to figure out how much, how often, in what language. Sometimes I can just jump right in, and other times, no matter how "useful" it would be for me to write, I just want to hibernate. In any case, I enjoy reading about your weaving and about your life- life and learning and work are all linked- that is the glorious thing about all these blogs- we are half a world away from one another, yet we are all able to communicate through pictures and words. For me, the community and the linking of worlds and people and thoughts outweighs my desire to erase my internet identity... for the moment anyway (:

  8. Eloquently phrased, Julia.

    The decision of "how much" is a constant thing, though, isn't it? And I think I tend to write more than what some may consider ... personable? ... in good taste?... sane? I know I'm not the type of person that can keep a beautiful book-like blog, that much I know, though I love blogs like that, to follow.

    I think bottom line I'm more interested in the person - the same reason I'm far more interested and forgiving if I get to know an artist (Van Gogh! Rothko!!) and read as many biographies as I can though sometimes I don't know their work very well, be it visual art or literature. I find life more interesting and cannot take visual art seriously without knowing the artists a little bit.

    I think that's why I started writing about my life, too. Whilst it'd be fabulous if I could remain anonymous and mysterious and just cranked out woven pieces, (I would love it if I could be like that), the compulsion to tell, to explain, to share, well, I'm hoping that moment before I die I'll see that it was the right thing for me to do, that it, in whatever way it manifests, was the right thing for me to have done.

    Or, something terrible could happen to the entire Internet and I won't have to worry about that! I'm OK with that, even though some of my thoughts and photographs will forever be lost to me, too. Again, it's my familiar "OK, I did it, now leave me alone" feeling.

  9. You can be very proud of your work Meg. Yoshiko has the calico end pieces of the katana piece at the top of this post and showed them to us in our workshop as an example (and they were pinned on the wall along with work from Ana Lisa Hedstrom and others).

  10. Dianne, I think they are Clare's as I still have mine. I hope you enjoyed your workshop.


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